Monday, October 31, 2011

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Release Date: 27th September, 2011

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing

Pages: 452pgs

The Story

Mara Dyer doesn't think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.

It can.

She believe there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.

There is.

She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love.

She's wrong.

The Review

Holy crap! It has been a while since I have been addicted to a book and it was about time I was addicted to something like this. I thought all of the hype would set my expectations up a little too high and I would end up disappointed but I wasn't at all. In fact, every single 5-star review was the damn-straight-honest truth. I love the cover to death and there's no denying that it's the most eye-catching and the most beautiful cover that I've seen this year and despite the summary of the book leaving you with no clue to what the book is actually about, THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER is by far one of my favourites of 2011 and I'm blessing this post with much love and adoration. And I have plenty of love to give.

Mara Dyer is a little crazy. There's no denying there because for her it's hard to justify what's real and what's simply a hallucination. But the thing about this particular book is that it's one that keeps you forever guessing and you have no idea what to expect next from the characters nor where the direction of this novel will take you. While I won't go into too much detail - since it would ruin the epicness of this novel and because I want my blog readers to find out for themselves on how great Dyer is - but please trust me when I say it was so incredibly awesome. With a very likable character like Mara and the smouldering love interest Noah, not to mention the haunting paranormal elements that surround the edges of the storyline, it was everything I was hoping for and my expectations are now out of this world.

What stood out the most from the endless pages was Mara Dyer herself. She was smart, funny, knew how to ward off trouble even when it seemed tempting to her, and even though she thought she was going crazy . . . I just loved every bit of her snarkiness that she threw our way. Who doesn't like some snark in a teenage girl? Now unlike most leading female heroines that you read nowadays in young adult fiction, Mara had a great relationship with her family (finally a girl with a great family) and she easily connected to many of the characters introduced in the book. But personally for me, the person she really connected to was the bad boy of the town and her love interest in the story. Noah that is.

Bad boys seem very overrated through many readers eyes and I was about to give up on them . . . even though I will probably end up having a love and hate relationship with them. But clearly hate won't take any part in Noah's case. God he was HOT and super fine! *fans face* He may have a reputation looming over him like the plague but everyone loves a bad-slash-british-boy. Well actually he's not necessarily your typical 'bad boy' but I think people will see he's the kind of boy that takes time to trust and with Mara it does. Though for me it was too easy to trust him completely because you fell in love with him and how extra sweet and funny and caring he was towards our Mara, which in my eyes . . . gives him the extra hint of sweet, sweet honey. Yes I believe I just said that - who would've thought? And unlike YA fictional relationships, these two characters - Mara and Noah - shared such an intense sense of chemistry which ignited all sorts of fiery sparks that practically flew off the page. Not kidding here. All I wanted was more scenes of these two teens together and it just didn't seem enough. As you can gather by my neverending gushing, I loved this couple on a whole and I will continue to love them forever.

Getting more down to the point, I thought Michelle Hodkin's writing was absolutely beautifully-prosed and she practically seduced me with the written word. There were so many scenes that left you craving for more, so many witty comebacks shared between characters (ones that made you laugh at loud), and of course, there was plenty of questions left floating around my mind towards the end of the book. Because after all, there was that unexpected cliffhanger that hit into you. How cruel Hodkin . . . how cruel! Overall I literally can't wait to get my hands on the sequel to this series and it'll be interesting what else happens to Mara and Noah, and I hope some questions will be answered also. Gah! I can't stop thinking about Noah right now . . . so thank you very much Hodkin for that troublesome problem of mine!

The Rating

5/5 stars

Friday, October 28, 2011

As I Wake by Elizabeth Scott

Release Date: 15th September, 2011

Publisher: Dutton

Pages: 269pgs

The Story

Ava is welcomed home from the hospital by a doting mother, lively friends, and a crush finally beginning to show interest. There's only one problem: she can't remember any of them - and can't shake the eerie feeling that she's not who they say she is.

Ava struggles to break through her amnesiac haze as she goes through the motions of high-school life, but the memories that surface take place in a very different world, where Ava and familiar-faced friends are under constant scrutiny and no one can be trusted. Ava doesn't know what to make of these visions, or of the boy who is at the center of them all, until he reappears in her life and offers answers . . . but only in exchange for her trust.

The Review

I don't know what to think of this book, and honestly, I don't know if I could ever explain this storyline to anyone. I've read most of Elizabeth Scott's novels which I absolutely loved and adored since she reminded me of authors like Sarah Dessen, and when I came across yet another new novel of hers . . . I knew it was a must read since I was a big fan of hers already. But if you're like me and are a fan of Scott's previous novels, then I should warn you all to expect something completely and utterly different from Scott's usual writing style. It's not the book you would expect from her and it will surprise you on how different it is compared to her other books.

I'm guessing on a whim here but AS I WAKE seems like a book of the sci-fi genre and I tend to love that genre in both young adult and adult fiction. However, while I thought the concept of the book sounded very interesting and not to mention the cover art draws you in as well, but clearly I got this book all wrong. Really wrong. The book relies heavily on alternative universes and I don't mind that idea - but it's just plain weird. For me at least. I hate to criticize one of my favourite YA authors, but the true problem of this book is the way it's written and that nothing is really explained to the reader. Take for example with the main character, Ava, who has a form of amnesia going on and who knows what else. In Scott's writing, she manages to make you just as confused as the character was in the book and while I admire that style of writing and the scattered puzzle pieces of this world she had created, but from what I was reading and trying to put together . . . it was like I was on drugs. Or rather if I 'was' a drug addict, then probably this book would make total sense to me. Before you go saying, "Why would you say that?", I'm just saying that that's the way I felt about AS I WAKE and maybe other readers could connect to this story more than I ever could. Or again - maybe not.

Overall, AS I WAKE started out strong. It was still compelling throughout the story because you wanted answers as much as Ava did but I wanted more. I enjoyed it to a certain low extent but by the time you hit the ending and have a few question marks floating around your head . . . let's just go with a what-the-hell moment. Trust me you will have a few of those moments. All-in-all this was my least favourite Elizabeth Scott novel but I hope her next book is a little better and perhaps she should stick with the young adult contemporary novels or something that makes some sense to me. I recommend this book to anyone who loves to be confused (you know, like Shutter Island and Inception minus the movie awesomeness). And by the way, if you can't see my face, just look at the cover and see me crying in frustration with the dark smoke representing my brain exploding. Damn. I really wanted to love this book too . . . sighs.

The Rating

2/5 stars

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Anna Dressed In Blood by Kendare Blake

Release Date: 30th August, 2011

Publisher: Tor Teen

Pages: 316pgs

The Story

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead - keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn't expect anything outside the ordinary: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

But she, for whatever reason, spares Cas's life.

The Review

Never in my life have I read a young adult book that has nailed every single aspect of horror and has continued to amaze me in every way possible. Chapter-to-chapter. Start-to-end. Bloody-to-damn-right-gory. But before I get into the actual review, let's take a moment to appreciate the beautiful and haunting cover art that we have here of our precious bloody Anna. Believe me when I say this to you guys: please judge this book by its cover because the storyline and pretty much everything else in this book is just as epic - if not - as equally awesome as the cover is itself. Let's take yet another moment to worship this cover. So, have you got the moment already? Okay. Good. Now onto the review.

ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD is one of my ultimate favourite books of 2011. When I first heard about this book I immediately thought of the popular tv show Supernatural. I don't know if it was a cosmic joke to nickname the character 'Cas' since in the show Dean calls his angel-lover boy 'Cas', but I didn't care about that. Neither did I care about a similar storyline to a father being killed during a supernatural hunt and now his son is taking over the family business. Look, in comparison to the show, when it comes down to it, this book was everything I hoped for and more than I asked for.

One of the best things was the voice of Cas. Lately I've been a huge fan of boy perspectives because there's so little of them in YA paranormal books and you would've thought the author herself was a boy, because like the storyline, she nailed Cas's character to the very bone. I wanted him to be a real person. He's intelligent, hilarious, dry humoured in a good boy-ish sort of way, and not to mention smart, handsome, and has the right amount of touch of authenticness about him. I mean, it's about time we have a guy character that is mature for once and knows exactly what he wants . . . what can I say? He's a hero through my eyes.

The second best thing was the storyline. It was a classic horror story with enough darkness and disturbing images to make you squirm in your seat and go, "THAT WAS AWESOME!" Seriously. It was THAT good. Being a huge horror fanatic whether it's films or books, I just adore them and I'm glad this book was published. I was waiting for a book like this to come. ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD satisfied my every bit need of horror and the author has got me by the fish hook, one that will have you forever being reeled in with curiosity. There was blood, body-tearing, and what's a horror story without the dripping pools of blood itself. And Anna. Much like Cas, I adored Anna - the girl dressed in blood. Some see her as a villain and others see her as a hero. She is both and I love her for it. The moment she first stepped onto the scene I knew I was going to love her and as her character grew . . . I continued to love her even more than I expected and I'm totally Team Anna forever. She's a girl you want to try and stay away from, but she's the kind of gal you're being constantly drawn to - just as Cas was. And those two together? Man I just love those two and the chemistry sizzling into the unknown. Who says a friendship and love can't be shared between one of the living and one of the dead?

Writing wise, the book was absolutely fabulous and with some incredible talent, Kendare Blake has written ever-so-amazing actions scenes, along with some gritty gore without being too out there. Or not . . . but hey I'm all for it because I don't have a weak stomach when it comes to this book.

With some twisty-turns and a lot of character development throughout, it's no wonder why everyone wants to meet ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD! Whether you're a horror fan or not (which you must be for this book) or are just looking for something refreshing in the YA book market, then Anna is your girl and Cas is your boy. Either way you have two great main characters and I'm very protective of them so you will HAVE to love them. But trust me, it's a brilliant must-read for all to devour and with mixed-in elements of witchcraft, romance, blood and gore, you will forever be talking about the extreme cliffhanger Blake offered towards the end of the book! And I can't wait to see what Kendare Blake writes next for the adventures of Cas Lowood!

The Rating

5/5 stars

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson

Release Date: 2nd June, 2011

Publisher: Orchard

Pages: 410pgs

The Story

Once upon a time there was a girl who was special.

This is not her story.

Unless you count the part where I killed her.

Sixteen-year-old Alison has been sectioned in a mental institute for teens, having murdered the most perfect and popular girl at school. But the case is a mystery: no body has been found, and Alison's condition is proving difficult to diagnose. Alison herself can't explain what happened: one minute she was fighting with Tori - the next she disintegrated. Into nothing. But that's impossible. Right?

The Review

ULTRAVIOLET is one of the few books that has surprised me this year, mainly because the story itself turned into something that I least suspected. And I LOVE books that surprise me in many ways! When we first met our heroine, Alison, she's strapped to a bed in a room in an asylum, and soon after she's questioned by a police officer who escorts her to another asylum - Pine Hills. Already convinced as the murderer, Alison still can't remember what exactly happened on the night when Miss Popular was 'killed' or why she hears objects, tastes syllables and feels numbers . . . nothing can be explained. But that's until a psychology student named Sebastian Faraday comes along and he alone has the answers.

Now before I started this book, I imagined another paranormal storyline slapped onto the table especially since it was set in a mental institution. One of my favourite settings by the way. Judging by the plot a lot of readers knew it was a mystery but it was more than that and I really mean more than that. At a particular point in the book, everything changes and all the missing pieces of the puzzle are put back together to create something really special. It takes a lot of talent for an author to surprise me and I'm so very thankful that the author, R.J. Anderson, managed the impossible. Her writing - which was so spot on - was beautifully crafted, her world-building was strange-but-so-out-of-this-world, and most importantly, despite the crazy circumstances, her characters blew me away in all their little details . . . it was just awesome.

What I really loved about ULTRAVIOLET was Alison herself. She was a fantastic character and I loved her almost immediately. It was clear she had no idea what was going on and seeing how confused she was about her situation, it was easy to empathise with her. I mean, being forced to doing something you don't want to do is everyone's nightmare, but it's even more heartbreaking when you're held against your will by your own flesh and blood. Her mother. It was crazy to say the least. As for the other supporting characters, they were wonderful too. But for me I have to mention Sebastian. Wow, what a character he was and just like the storyline he too surprised me in ways I didn't see coming AT ALL. I will say no more because you will have to read it to find out for yourself!

This is my first book of R.J. Anderson's and trust me it won't be the last I'll read of hers. She's ultra-amazing! What she's done with this true beauty of ULTRAVIOLET . . . I can definitely say that if you want something twisty, unique and something totally out of your own comfort zone and far apart from the paranormal you see nowadays, then clearly this is the book for you and one you will love til the very end!

The Rating

5/5 stars

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore

Release Date: 12th July, 2011

Publisher: Random House

Pages: 416pgs

The Story

Amy Goodnight's family are far from normal. She comes from a long line of witches, and grew up surrounded by benevolent spirits and kitchen spells. All fairly harmless, but Amy can't wait to get to college and escape the "family business".

But things take a darker turn when she and her sister Phin spend the summer looking after their Aunt Hyacinth's ranch. Amy is visited by a midnight spectre who is clearly trying to send her a message. It seems that the discovery of an old grave on a neighbour's land has been the catalyst for an apparent ghost uprising.

Aided by local friends and Ben, the handsome cowboy who just can't take his eyes off Amy, the sisters investigate. And they soon find that there's something strange and dangerous going on, deep in the heart of Texas . . .

The Review

There are a number of things TEXAS GOTHIC has going for it but I'll only mention a few! Firstly, there's this cool and familiar Nancy Drew vibe (I'm all for the red-headed heroine sleuth). You see I'm a hardcore fan of Drew, so pretty much any book with a familiarity to that favourite detective idol of mine, I'm sooooooo there! The second thing is, there's this awesome setting in the dustlands of ranches and thirdly there's this an old-fashioned ghost-hunting and haunting mystery that surrounds the hot Texan summers. And by meshing together my favourite three elements, it's the perfect book for all readers.

Being already a fan of Rosemary Clement-Moore's The Splendor Falls, I had high expectations for this book despite its mixed reviews. While at times I was irritated by the main heroine's choices, but Amy (Amaryllis) was ultimately the perfect gal and there wouldn't be TEXAS GOTHIC without her because she brings everything to the novel. She's more outgoing compared to her sisters and other characters, and I'm oddly finding the whole running-around-outside-chasing-things-in-your-underwear so amusing. She maybe the outspoken, confident, strong girl, and say things without thinking for the most part of the book, but readers will love seeing her sensitive personality and how the author showed her vulnerability when it was needed.

Now onto the love interest of the story - or should I say the unexpected love interest. In TEXAS GOTHIC we meet the arrogrant and cocky Ben, the cowboy with more to him than meets the eye. Ben was the kind of character I just had to like immediately and after all, he's a smexy hot cowboy and who doesn't love a hot cowboy, eh? When we're introduced to Ben and seeing his character develop throughout the book, readers - much like with Amy's character - will enjoy seeing the different sides to Ben's personality. But there's no boy without his complications and boy did I LOVE how he was able to give Amy a run for her money. With hilarious moments of comebacks and insults, fangals will be falling head over heels over Ben. And not to mention that fangals will also be swooning over the romantic banter and steamy chemistry shared between Ben and Amy. Trust me here folks . . . there is plenty of chemistry to go around and around.

Despite a couple of flaws in the book - in regards to being confused in certain parts - however the storyline within itself was really entertaining and I was definitely intrigued by the twists and turns offered. On a whole I found TEXAS GOTHIC had a brilliant mix of magic, ghosts, legends and romance, and with a well-detailed historical aspect placed into the middle of the story, readers will be delivered with a solid part thriller, part horror, part contemporary novel that will please all fans of the paranormal genre. So be sure to check it out if you like smart-mouthed heroines with enough fiery spirit to get you coming back for more! The only real shame is that it's a standalone novel. Sighs. I want more Ben!

The Rating

4 1/2 / 5 stars

Monday, October 24, 2011

Blood Bound by Rachel Vincent

Release Date: 23rd August, 2011

Publisher: Mira

Pages: 463pgs

The Story

By blood, by word, by magic . . .

Most can't touch the power. But Liv Warren is special - a paranormal tracker who follows the scent of blood.

Liv makes her own rules, and the most important one is trust no one.

But when her friend's daughter goes missing, Liv has no choice but to find the girl. Thanks to a childhood oath, Liv can't rest until the child is home safe. But that means trusting Cam Caballero, the former lover forbidden to her.

Bound by oath and lost in desire for a man she cannot love, Liv is racing to save the child from a dark criminal underworld where secrets, lies, trauma and danger lurk around every corner . . . every touch . . . every kiss.

And more blood will be spilled before it's over . . .

The Review

Rachel Vincent has done it again and it's no wonder why she's one of my favourite novelists! I've been a fan of Vincent's for a long time - what with her Shifter and Soul Screamers series - and no matter what book she brings out, you just know it's going to be awesome and a must read for all. BLOOD BOUND is such a rich and an extensive world - something that was so creative and unique! It's a world where a single drop of blood holds the power to expose a person's whereabouts and also where some people are either Un-Skilled or Skilled with specialized powers including Trackers, Binders, Travelers, Blinders, Jammers . . . it was nonetheless a very entertaining and complicated in a good-interesting-awesome kind of way!

BLOOD BOUND is told in first person, alternating from the main character Liv to her ex-boyfriend Cam and at first I found this alternative points of view confusing because I had no idea which head I was in. However, once you get used to these alternativing POVs you will soon become engrossed with this refreshing paranormal tale.

Liv, the heroine of our story, is one of the strongest characters that I know and it's no surprise considering Vincent writes strong female characters (for those who've read her other series will know what I mean). Liv will do just about anything to save and protect those she loves, even if it means sacrificing her own happiness. Even her own life. She's been through so much in her past and she's a fighter too, which I love most about her character. Cam on the other hand, Liv's ex-boyfriend and the one person she left behind, was just as strong and protective, and he never gives up on something he wants. However he did get on my nerves sometimes . . . but hey, he's a man in love. He has desires that needed to be expressed I suppose and all he wants is for the love of his life to admit that she still loves him too. You have to admire and love a guy for trying so damn hard.

Personally for me, the best part of the book was the ever-so-amazing chemistry between the character's Liv and Cam - it was intense to say the least. They share a lot of history together and even after all these years, and after all the hurt Liv caused Cam, the ignited spark is still there and forces them to work together again, making this lost spark burn even brighter. I just . . . well I just loved, loved, LOVED every moment of them together! But there's no Rachel Vincent romance without its own complications. Trust me there are all sorts of complications for Liv and Cam. It will never be an easy relationship.

By the time I reached the final chapter, I was literally blown away by the ending! There were a lot of 'oh my' sayings and things like 'you seriously didn't just do that to me!'. When you read the last few words of the book, you definitely know there's a lot more instore for this book series and I can't wait to find out more, and what's going to happen to Liv and not to mention Cam! With heaps of fun-packed action, twists and turns, and plenty of love to go around, BLOOD BOUND was an exciting and interesting start to another great Rachel Vincent series!

The Rating
4 1/2 / 5 stars

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Industry by Rose Foster

Release Date: 1st April, 2012

Publisher: HarperCollins Australia

Pages: 407pgs

The Story

Kirra Hayward is an ordinary sixteen-year-old - smarter than most, but otherwise completely anonymous. When she solves an unusual decrypting puzzle on the internet to fill in a moment of boredom at school, she has no idea of what she's letting herself in for.

Kidnapped by a shadowy organisation of mercenaries known only as The Industry, Kirra soon discovers how valuable her code-breaking skills are. And when she stubbornly refuses to help them, they decide to break her . . . by any means at their disposal.

Compulsive and page-turning, The Industry is the first in a trilogy from talented debut author Rose Foster.

The Review

A big thanks to HarperCollins Australia for sending me an early manuscript of this book!

When I received my very first manuscript from HarperCollins, I was over the moon because 1) bound manuscripts are so very cool seeing in person and 2) because it was a bound manuscript of a not-yet-released 2012 book THE INDUSTRY by Rose Foster, which I couldn't wait to get my hands on. And trust me here you guys . . . this was an awesome book that I can't wait to share my thoughts on!

Who knew that cracking a code online could change everything? Well, it did for Kirra Haywood and because she solved a puzzle without a question, a week later after this ingenious brain of hers, she was kidnapped without a single trace left behind of her . . . kidnapped because of her skills and now she's in the fight for her life.

Since it's an awesome book and since it's not released until next year, I'll just briefly go through some events that occur in the book. In THE INDUSTRY our main heroine, Kirra, is pretty brainy for her age of sixteen and because she 'cracked the code', her cruel, devious and ruthless captor wants her to decipher something called the Spencer Code - where not even the most skilled individuals can solve it, which is why Kirra was chosen specifically. But how can a sixteen-year-old girl solve it when she has so little experience in the field they're in? How can she possibly become someone's new weapon when she doesn't recognize her own capabilities?

But the thing is . . . Kirra's not the only one people want. After many weeks of torture and dark imprisonment, Kirra meets a boy around her age named Milo - her new cellmate companion that is there for the same reason she is. Overall I loved the constant interactions shared between Kirra and Milo. They're both going through physical and emotional trauma, and it was pretty realisitc when it came to them forming a bond - a connection - with several months being locked away together. I could see that happening in real life because they have no one else to help them. But while it's easy to talk to someone . . . but it's harder to actually trust them. Which leaves many questions when it comes to trusting Milo because we know so little about him.

What I loved most about this book was Kirra herself. She was an easy character to grow fond of. With her future looking rather bleak and controlled, she never allowed the bad guys to break her spirit and she 'kind of' reminded me of Hunger Games's Katniss - her strength mostly, which will appeal to a lot of readers when they get a chance to read this book next year. Another fond character of mine was Milo. Sure he was a stubborn-and-sometimes-annoying character, but he was a necessary character to have, because he gave Kirra the strength she needed and he was another reason to make her continue in survival, something or rather someone else to fight for. And after I finished this book, I'm looking forward to reading more about his and Kirra's character, because the way Rose Foster left the ending of this first installment, I'm sure there's more surrounding these characters of hers and they still have far more to learn and develop in this potential series. Plus did I mention there's plenty of kick-ass action sequences . . . ones that are almost cinematic? Yes. Indeed this will please readers.

THE INDUSTRY is an addictive, fast-paced, sometimes witty, over-the-edge thriller that will keep you on constant alert and make you wonder what's going to happen next to our Kirra and the fate of mankind. Even with some untrusting alliances, some gun-to-gun action, or simply good old torture with a lesson waiting to be learned, you will never know what to expect when it comes to Rose Foster's epic writing! There's never a moment where I'm left bored because Foster gives you a special dose of rushing adrenaline that will make you fight to stay awake until reaching the end of this book. Be sure to check out other reviews on THE INDUSTRY at the book's facebook page and make sure you mark your calendars - boys and girls - next year for this book! It's going to be a blast when its comes closer to the release day!

The Rating

4 1/2 / 5 stars

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Silence by Becca Fitzpatrick

Release Date: 4th October, 2011

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Pages: 438pgs

The Story

The noise between Patch and Nora has gone. They've overcome the secrets riddled in Patch's dark past, bridged two irreconcilable worlds and faced heart-wrenching tests of betrayal, loyalty and trust . . . and all for a love that will transcend the boundary between heaven and hell.

Armed with nothing but their absolute faith in one another, Patch and Nora enter a desperate fight to stop a villain who holds the power to shatter everything they've worked for, and their love, forever.

The Review

A big thanks to Simon & Schuster Australia for sending me a review copy of this book!

For fans of the Hush Hush series, you should know already on what happened at the ending of Crescendo, and boy the author was brutally cruel in teasing us so. The major cliffhanger had changed everything that we know about the story and the characters, and like I said, the author was brutal because we had to wait for the next book to find out what happens. Damn these authors of ours nowadays and these tormenting pages. But after a long wait for the third book, readers will finally experience a new thrilling ride where nothing is as it seems and let's just say this time round, Patch and Nora are in more trouble than ever before.

In the third book SILENCE, we find out what happened to Nora Grey. She has not only lost three months of her life but she has no recollection of those three months alone. When she's found again by police - in a dark, creepy cemetery no less - and is back home living with her mother who has changed from the mother she used to know, she soon learns while she was gone, everyone else thought she was kidnapped and thinks god-knows-what-else had happened to her. But what's worse - she can't remember her fallen angel boyfriend Patch nor anything about the angels and nephilim. But as we divulge into the lost answers Nora is looking for, we also solve many other secrets that we didn't see coming. Of hers and Patch's.

I really enjoyed this novel. For the first 150 pages or so, I was a little disappointed with the lack of development in the storyline because nothing was really happening and it drove me off course. But once I flew past the rest of the chapters and realized I hit the ending pages, the plot began to move incredibly fast and I couldn't seem to put the book down after that. There were several fighting scenes that were well-written and I found myself yet again entertained. When it came to the Hush Hush series, I liked Nora's character in the first book but found her way too whiny and a little childish in the sequel. However in SILENCE to my surprise, I found Nora's character has really changed for the better. She's more mature and comes across as really well-rounded character that you can love and have some respect for. Plus she didn't make stupid decisions unlike the decisions she made in the sequel. So two big thumbs up for that.

Now onto Patch's character. I admit, I was peeved off on how he comes and goes in this book and I just wanted him out in the open. And bloody hell . . . damn Nora for not remembering him when he was around. It was so frustrating! But once he was out of the shadows, readers will be thinking "Our Patch is back and is super awesome as always". Because he is. Sure he's like every other guy character who wants to 'protect' the girl they love and while sometimes that doesn't always work out that way, but I still loved Patch just being Patch. To add to his positive side, readers will finally get to see more of his abilities put into action and I fell back in love with his character again. And as for the other characters such as Scott (yes, he's back), Marcie, Vee and that Hank (you know, that douche guy we will forever hate on hating), they were all a great supporting cast to have in this installment and for once they served some purpose in the novel. Especially Scott and Marcie, which surprised me because sometimes I thought they had no purpose at all . . . but thankfully they did in this addition to the series.

Overall, Becca Fitzpatrick has done it again with SILENCE. Offering a part-romantic, thrilling, mysterious and a suspenseful novel with plenty of shocking twists and unsuspecting cracks in this flawless storyline, I'm glad to say that all readers of this series will not be disappointed. And now learning that Fitzpatrick is writing a fourth book, I literally can't wait to get my hands on a copy because there was yet another cliffhanger leaving you speechless and begging for more scorching hotness. So a big thanks to Simon & Schuster Australia for sending me a review copy of this book! You guys are the best publishers and deserve every bit of credit for publishing SILENCE!

The Rating

5/5 stars

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber

Release Date: 8th November, 2011

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Pages: 320pgs

The Story

The Picture of Dorian Gray meets Pride & Prejudice, with a dash of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

New York City, 1882. Seventeen-year-old Natalie Stewart's latest obsession is a painting of the handsome British Lord Denbury. Something in his striking blue eyes calls to her. As his incredibly life-like gaze seems to follow her, Natalie gets the uneasy feeling that details of the painting keep changing . . .

Jonathan Denbury's soul is trapped in the gilded painting by dark magic while his possessed body commits unspeakable crimes in the city slums. He must lure Natalie into the painting, for only together can they reverse the curse and free his damaged soul.

The Review

A big thanks to SourceBooks on netGalley for accepting my request in reading this book early!

I've had this book on my to-read wishlist for a while now and when netGalley accepted my request, I was super excited to start reading this book. DARKER STILL is a fantastic Gothic-like paranormal story set in a Victorian world of New York City. And I loved it completely.

The story is told through seventeen-year-old Natalie Stewart who is a beautiful and an intelligent young girl. But since witnessing her mother's death as a child, Natalie has never been the same. She can't speak. With her father unsure how to handle her well-being and with Natalie spending most of her childhood in an asylum - for people suffering with mental illness - when Natalie eventually moves back to live with her father, she's not so sure where to fit into a society where marriage is expected from a young woman at her age. Plus, like I mentioned before, she's unable to speak and who would want to marry her if she has this 'disability'? However, with her father working at the Museum of Art, she manages to convince him in getting her a job there and that's when everything changes.

Behold the painting of Lord Denbury - the gilded painting Natalie becomes obsessed with. She knows of the mystery surrounding the painting and how it's supposedly 'haunted' but she remains fascinated by the detail inside the picture. With more and more time spent with this Lord Denbury, Natalie discovers something more sinister; Lord Denbury's soul - his real soul - is trapped inside the painting and this young girl is his only hope to break the curse.

On a whole, I thought Natalie's character was a superb heroine. She's smart, resourceful, brave, and strong. Throughout the course of the book her character develops by each chapter and despite the many terrible things she witnesses and experiences, Natalie continues to remain determined in freeing Lord Denbury. Also it's great to have a female heroine rescuing the male hero - it's a nice change around for a Victorian-based novel. I also love the fact DARKER STILL is set in a Victorian New York, and again with the change, I liked that it wasn't set in the usual 1800's London which we see a lot in YA fiction. As for the character's love interest, Lord Denbury, I really liked him. He's handsome, knows how to make a young lady fall hopelessly in-love with him, and of course, he's extremely passionate when it comes to Natalie. What's not to love? Now I'm not sure whether this is a standalone book or a potential series, but according to goodreads there's another book, so I'm more than happy to read future books . . . I'm all for it.

Without revealing the special little details of the book, I'm very intrigued by how DARKER STILL reminded me so much of my favourite book classic The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. I'm assuming the author was inspired by his story (as the author mentioned Gray in her acknowledgements page) and for that inspiration alone I fell even more in love with this book because I'm a huge Wilde fan. So I would recommend this book to Wilde fans, fans of a strong female heroine who fights for her man and pretty much anyone who loves a good old paranormal twist in a good old-fashioned New York City. Oh and a handsome Victorian gentleman of course. We can't get enough of those, can we?

The Rating

5/5 stars

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

Release Date: 29th September, 2011

Publisher: HarperCollins

Pages: 372pgs

The Story

The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London marks a memorable occassion. For Rory, it's the start of a new life at a London boarding school. But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper events of more than a century ago.

Soon "Rippermania" takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him. Even her roommate, who was walking with her at the time, didn't notice the mysterious man. So why can only Rory see him? And more urgently, why has Rory become his next target? In this edge-of-your-seat-thriller, full of suspense, humor, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities.

The Review

A big thanks to HarperCollins for sending me a review copy of this book!

THE NAME OF THE STAR is a fun, mysterious and an entertaining read, and as an introduction to a new YA urban fantasy series, I think Maureen Johnson fans - those fans of her previous contemporary novels - will be pleasantly happy with this book. Though for those who love the paranormal genre . . . some may believe you've seen this all before. Except it's about Jack the Ripper. Who doesn't love him?

Our main heroine is an all-round American teenager, a girl named Rory, and the very last thing she expected from her parents was to move to the foggy streets of London and start at her new all-round English boarding school where strange events start to occur before her known arrival. With ghosts, murders, cute boys and new unlikely friends, pretty much every element is covered for paranormal freaks like me. But what makes this book even stronger is the fantastic historical aspect of Jack the Ripper and Maureen Johnson easily taps into the spooky facts about him. You could tell she went detective on us and did a lot of research which you as a reader can tell when it comes to this book.

This is the second book I've read of Maureen Johnson's and when I finished Suite Scarlett I was pretty disappointed in all the hype that her writing was getting - especially when it came to that book. However, she really surprised me with this new book of hers. While the first hundred or so pages were incredibly slow for me - to a point where I found myself skimming some paragraphs with not so much happening - and with a story that wasn't so entertaining as I first assumed, but once Jack the Ripper entered and everything changed in a paranormalistic-turn, I couldn't wait to find out more and what awaits Rory's fate.

Without giving too much away, all I can say is on the fantasy side Maureen Johnson did a great job in writing about Ripper and putting the little pieces together of the gruesome murders that happens throughout the book. It was pretty interesting and intense too. Now on the honest side of things, I thought this story relied too much on Jack's legend - which I know is the point of this story - but I felt like something was lacking from it. I don't what it is exactly . . . but something was missing. Sure, I didn't mind Rory's character and I connected to her on a certain level, and I even found the whole paranormal police agency interesting too, but while I was totally engrossed with Jack the Ripper's history, I desperately wanted a better ending because Johnson was building up to something great and this greatness never showed up.

However despite some minor things I wished could've been developed more, on a whole I really enjoyed THE NAME OF THE STAR and I'm still looking forward to reading the sequel. The story needed more meat for me but for fans who don't know what to expect from a story like this one, than I'm sure you will overlook these dissatisfying feelings I'm left with. Still . . . everyone will LOVE Jack the Ripper which is way I'm giving this four stars rather than 3 1/2 stars because real or not we love him.

The Rating

4/5 stars

Friday, October 14, 2011

Cover Reveal

I think I've just died. This is Kendare Blake's sequel to Anna Dressed in Blood and my god isn't it the most beautiful cover you've ever seen in your life? I'm speechless. Wow. Oh my god wow. So what do you think of this uber-amazing cover? Are you in love? Does it beat the first book's cover completely? It sure has won me over.

Prisoners in the Palace by Michaela MacColl

Release Date: Out now!

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Pages: 368pgs

The Story

London, 1838. Sixteen-year-old Liza's dreams of her society debut are dashed when her parents are killed in an accident. Penniless, she accepts the position of lady's maid to young Princess Victoria and steps unwittingly into the gossipy intrigue of the servant's world below-stairs as well as the trickery above. Is it possible that her changing circumstances may offer Liza the chance to determine her own fate, find true love, and secure the throne for her future queen?

Meticulously based on newly discovered information, this riveting novel is as rich in historical detail as Catherine, Called Birdy, and as sizzling with intrigue as The Luxe.

The Review

I picked up this book on a whim at the local library. But for two reasons and two reasons only. For one, because of the gorgeous vintage-like cover which immediately drew my attention to it. And two, because the story revolved around Queen Victoria whom I've been fascinated by for a while now. For the last year or so I've been getting back into the historical genre and I'm glad to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book. More than I thought I would. Once I started reading it I couldn't dare myself to put it down and the writing was spectacularly awesome and I'm sure a lot of readers who don't love historical fiction will end up loving this one.

Without revealing too much of the storyline, what I loved most was how Michaela MacColl's had written the most engaging characters and developed them into this empowering storyline. PRISONERS IN THE PALACE had a little bit of everything: drama, suspense, deception, romance, humour and intrigue, but when the author used various newspaper articles, journal entries and other written letters, it made the book even more fascinating than it already was. And based on everything I've read, what surprised me was how closely the book followed true facts of Queen Victoria- the young girl before becoming a Queen - and her London society, which added an in-depth realism to the book in question.

For me the main character, Liza, was a great protagonist and in the time period she was surrounded in, I enjoyed reading and relating to her experiences that all women face regardless of the era - the longing for love, acceptance, success, and the most important one of all, independence. I admired her strength in an all-man world, her determination, her courage and the way she encouraged the young Victoria that went beyond her expected duties . . . something that was much more than a servant and royalty relationship.

Supported by other intriguing characters such as the adorable Will, the young entreprener who publishes his own news, and the humourous scoundrel Inside Boy who surprises you in every turn he makes, I just loved their characters and their own personalities, especially Will's. But what made this book even more special was learning about Victoria before she became the peoples' Queen and the events that unfolded before such events occurred. It was a real treat.

The great thing about historical fiction is that everyone can love it. And I thought Michaela MacColl did an amazing job with her research and the way the romance outshined the historical aspect. Ahhhhh . . . how I loved the romance and how it didn't dominate the storyline. It was very sweet to read about. Overall if you love historical fiction or - like me - were already interested in Victoria's young life before she became the Queen or perhaps are looking for something interesting to read in your spare time, then definitely go out to your local library or go buy it yourself, because with well-rounded characters and a great, well-plotted storyline, PRISONERS IN THE PALACE was such a delightful read and I wished it didn't have to end.

The Rating

4/5 stars

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Tales of Terror from the Tunnel's Mouth by Chris Priestley

Release Date: 7th March, 2011

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Pages: 288pgs

The Story

The spine-chilling third title in the brilliantly received series of ghost stories by Chris Priestley.

Robert is taking the train by himself for the first time, but what should be a thrilling journey turns into something much scarier when the train breaks down at the mouth of a dark tunnel.

As the hours pass and no help comes, a kind woman tells him a series of spine-chilling stories, each one stranger than the first, and Robert begins to wonder whether she has a much darker side . . .

Read on to the final terrifying destination . . . if you dare.

The Review

A big thanks to Jess from She Known As Jess Blog Spot for sending me a copy of this book!

Some books are made for summer afternoons, but others like TALES OF TERROR FROM THE TUNNEL'S MOUTH is the perfect read for those - like me - who love staying up late and reading in the dark of the night. You know, those kind of nights where you hear creepy noises from the creaking floorboards, where you mistake your air-con for ghostly paranormal activity and the cool gust of wind outside your bedroom window? Yeah those precious ones. This is my first Chris Priestley book and because of my love of horror stories I thoroughly enjoyed this book and what it had to offer.

Robert, the main character, is on a train back to boarding school and when the train stops at the entry of a tunnel, a mysterious woman tells the boy stories to help pass the time. But these aren't your typical fairy tale stories. Instead, they are dark tales of absolute terror that are uniquely creative, entertaining, and a joy to devour because each and every story has a great twist to it.

In TALES OF TERROR FROM THE TUNNEL'S MOUTH there are about nine collections of short stories. Probably one of my favourite tales is the one of A New Governess, a story about a mean Governess who get's her just desserts and I love the contemporary issue of the Catholic church's abuse in this old-fashion Gothic tale of terror. But for you to understand what I'm talking about, you will need to pick up a copy of this book. Overall, I enjoyed all of the stories mentioned in the book and be sure to check it out when you get a chance, because they are short reads with enough packed fun and action in them. And did I mention very creepy? Yeah . . . they're quite creepy. But that's the fun of it.

The Rating

4/5 stars

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Shine by Lauren Myracle

Release Date: 1st May, 2011

Publisher: Amulet Books

Pages: 350pgs

The Story

When her best guy friend falls victim to a vicious hate crime, sixteen-year-old Cat sets out to discover who in her small town did it. Richly atmospheric, this daring mystery mines the secrets of a tightly knit Southern community and examines the strength of will it takes to go against everyone you know in the name of justice.

Against a backdrop of poverty, clannishness, drugs, and intolerance, Myracle has crafted a harrowing coming-of-age couched in a deeply intelligent mystery. Smart, fearless, and compassionate, this is an unforgettable work from a beloved author.

The Review

SHINE is an emotional rollar-coaster ride that opens straight into newspaper articles, detailing the attack on Patrick - our heroine's best friend. Patrick was bashed with a baseball bat and left bound to a gas pump with its nozzle duct taped to his mouth, and many other disturbing things that will make your skin crawl and things I would rather not mention. But we know something for a fact: a vicious crime was committed - kind of obvious there - and we're immediately thrusted into Cat's determined investigation, finding out who in the town was responsible for this heinous attack.

SHINE had a lot of great things going for it. It was a dark tale that would appeal to a lot of readers, there was a realistic feel when it came to the vivid descriptions of this small Southern town, and most importantly, readers would love the mystery that was well-plotted throughout the book. The only problem I could honestly say that was wrong with the book was the pacing. A lot of the mystery and the secrets could've been solved a little early on, but other than that it was an enjoyable read.

Overall I thought the book SHINE was a very compelling read, especially when it came to dealing with full-on human emotions. With a descriptive prose and tackling tough issues such drug use, rape and prejudice, I recommend this book to anyone who loves a darker, raw-toned, holding nothing back type of book.

The Rating

3/5 stars

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Strings Attached by Judy Blundell

Release Date: 5th May, 2011

Publisher: Scholastic

Pages: 313pgs

The Story

Kit Corrigan has always dreamed of being a star. But in order to get there, she needs to break up with Billy, who's going to Korea, and leave her family in Providence, Rhode Island, to move to New York City. There, she finds small roles and a city that's tough to live in. After she meets with Billy's father, Nate, things get a little easier. But Nate is a lawyer who defends mobsters, and soon Kit realizes that she has to do what he asks of her. Kit's life starts to feel beyond her control, especially once she uncovers a mystery that she needs to solve in order to protect the people she loves.

The Review

STRINGS ATTACHED is one of those books where you're not sure whether you liked it or not. At least not as a whole book. Before I go into further details, what captured me first was the cover - a beautiful blue coloured background and a covermodel that was dressed for the book's time period. It was a very eye-catching cover when I first picked up this book and judging by the storyline, what also drew me in was how it reminded me of Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen. But like I said, I'm still on the fence - have an average feeling here - about loving and liking this book. Nonetheless it was still a great book for a one time's sake reading.

There were definitely some elements of the book I liked. I enjoyed the realistic sense of the period and the fact that it didn't overload you with too many historical facts. The author, Judy Blundell, in that sense was very clever in writing this jazzy setting with well-rounded characters. But what I really liked was Kit and even her 'love interest' Billy, whom I felt made the book stand strongly on its own. Kit for example didn't grow as a character the way one would expect but she did grow a lot when it came to making decisions on her relationships and her own life. While I couldn't connect with her as much as I hoped but her personal story was layered out well and you'll still be able to understand who she is as a person. And while I'm on characters . . . let's talk about Billy.

Now he's the character that you love and hate. There are certain points of his personality where you felt for him and his current situation, but he also had qualities that tended to annoy me as a reader. He sometimes had an aggressive and possessive way of handling Kit, but then again, towards the last half of the book he had good reason for this. But I think if the author developed his character a little bit more - you know, in getting to know him better - I would've found him a more appealing character. However despite some minor faults, I felt other things lacked in development rather than the characters themselves. The major thing for me was when the chapters were dated with the months and years. While this is a good approach to a historical book, but when one chapter starts in a certain year and then the next it goes back another year . . . let's just say I started to get confused in which year I was in.

All in all STRINGS ATTACHED was full of likeable characters and an interesting plot line that keeps you there til the end. Despite some pet peeves of the book, I did enjoyed reading about the whole gangster feel and I know you guys will too! So I recommend it to readers of Anna Godbersen and historical YA readers, because I know you'll like it - or perhaps love it!

The Rating
3/5 stars

Monday, October 10, 2011

Beautiful Days by Anna Godbersen

Release Date: 24th August, 2011

Publisher: Razorbill

Pages: 360pgs

The Story

For the bright young things of 1929, the beautiful days seem endless, filled with romance and heartbreak, adventure and intrigue, friendship and rivalry.

After a month in New York, Cordelia Grey and Letty Larkspur are small-town girls no longer. They spend their afternoons with Astrid Donal at the Grey's lush Long Island estate and their nights in Manhattan's bustling metropolis. But Letty's not content to be a mere socialite. She is ready at last to chase her Broadway dreams - no matter the cost.

Cordelia is still reeling from the death of her father at the hands of Thom Hale, the man she thought she loved. Now she is set to honor Darius Grey's legacy . . . and take her revenge.

Promised to Cordelia's half brother, Astrid is caught up in a world of dazzling jewels and glittering nights - and the sparkle is blinding. Charlie Grey is a gangster playing a dangerous game; and for Astrid, Cordelia, and Letty, the stakes could be deadly.

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Luxe comes the second book in an epic series set in the dizzying last summer of the Jazz Age.

The Review

This book is second installment in the Bright Young Things series by Anna Godbersen which is set in the jazz age of the 1920's. Being a huge fan of the author's previous series, The Luxe, I'm so glad Godbersen continued to write yet another great young adult series. Now in this series, this particular decade has been a big obsession of mine. Flappers, bootleggers, fringed dresses, gangsters and jazz music . . . clearly this book is a winner through everyone's eyes and mine. It's instant love with me and this series and it was everything I hoped for. Now unlike the story of Bright Young Things - where the girls were introduced to the wonders of New York City - in BEAUTIFUL DAYS it's all sin and the dangers of what this big and bright city has to offer. And that's why I'm in love with Godbersen's work because she not only nails the setting, but she also makes you feel like you're right there in the dazzling action!

BEAUTIFUL DAYS picks up right where Bright Young Things left off and while Cordelia was my favourite gal in the first book, but now I'm totally a fan of Letty's character. For me in this book, I couldn't connect to the other girls as much as I did in the first book, but I loved Letty inside and out. She was the true star of the show - and Cordelia as well. But I loved Letty and how we read about her story of many ups and downs, and what really drew me to her character was the glitz and glamour of her trying to pursue a Broadway career. To make a namesake for herself. Now that's the roaring twenties that I know, love and appreciate! As for the girls and boys, and all the other characters that readers are introduced to, I thought every single one of them was awesome and I'm glad to see our characters developing in all sorts of interesting ways.

The best thing about Anna Godbersen is that she writes with such realism. While the series maybe set in the past, during a period I can't help but love, but Godbersen deals with the girls situations so well and deals with the many issues that are still relevant today - including heartbreak, betrayal, jealously, and of course the ultimate one, love. Overall if you're already a fan of Anna Godbersen or have yet to read her books, then definitely check out the Bright Young Things series because with all that Jazz, what's not to love?

The Rating

4/5 stars

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson

Release Date: Out now!

Publisher: Point

Pages: 353pgs

The Story

Scarlett Martin has grown up in a most unusal way. Her family owns the Hopewell, a smart Art Deco hotel in the heart of New York City. When each of the Martins turns fifteen, they are expected to take over the care of a suite. For Scarlett's fifteenth birthday, she gets both a room called the Empire Suite and a permanent guest named Mrs. Amberson. Scarlett doesn't quite know what to make of this C-list starlet and world traveler.

And when she meets Eric, an astonishingly gorgeous actor who has just moved to the city, her summer takes a second unexpected turn. Before the summer is over, Scarlett will have to survive a whirlwind of thievery and romantic missteps. But in the city where anything can happen, she might just be able to pull it off.

The Review

I've heard a lot of great reviews for Maureen Johnson's books and when I came across this one at my local library, I immediately picked it up and read it. Now comes the tricky part of the review. Readers should know this book reviewing process: you're either going to get a great story with everything you could possibly like in a book and then there's those other books that will fall flat. For this being my very first Maureen Johnson book, I have to say - sadly - that I wasn't entirely impressed with SUITE SCARLETT. With the book having a feel of Gossip Girl to it, I thought perhaps I could like it . . . but I didn't. I don't know whether it's the storyline that bothered me or the characters themselves.

It's hard giving a review when you weren't entirely invested in the book you're reviewing and that's how I feel for this one. The main problem of the book was the development of the characters. Sure, I liked Scarlett as the main character. She was nice girl but sometimes niceness doesn't cut it, not even to make you like the entire novel. Aside from some character issues of mine, who I did like was the little romance of Eric. Sure he wasn't exactly the 'perfect' love interest that was flawless to the bone, but he definitely added some quality to the book.

Overall I liked the New York setting and I mean who doesn't like New York City for what it is? It's the perfect setting for a book like this one but clearly - a lot like Scarlett's nice character - it wasn't enough to pull me through and enjoy this book. But I did finish it though, which is a good thing I suppose. Will I read the sequel? Probably . . . but then again, probably not. Should you read it? It's entirely up to you. This book has received some mixed reviews so it seems likely that it'll be a 50/50 chance that you'll like it. But I recommend this book to anyone who loves a Gossip Girl feel or anyone who loves a quick but cute-comedy read.

The Rating

2/5 stars

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Conflicted by Julia Crane

Release Date: 14th September, 2011

Publisher: Valknut Press

Pages: 210pgs

The Story

In the Elfin world, magic and destiny determine who will be together. "Chosen" pairs are fated to meet at the age of 18.

Keegan, however, is an anomaly. Having fallen into the battle between the Light and the Dark, she is only alive due to Black Magic, and her bond with her Chosen is broken. She cannot remember Rourk at all.

For the first time, she feels like a normal teenager. She is dating Donald, her long-time crush, and everything seems perfect. But Rourk still feels their bond, and despairs for the woman he was always meant to love.

Keegan's best friend Anna is determined to find a way to use her powers to return Keegan's bond, no matter what it takes. The question is does Keegan want it?

The Review

A big thanks to the author Julia Crane for providing me with an ebook copy!

CONFLICTED starts right after the events of Coexist and you can read my review on the first book here. The last time we saw Keegan she was saved from death, but because of a nasty side effect of black magic, she has no memory of her Chosen one, Rourk. Without the memory of Rourk and the freedom it offers of not having a Chosen one, in CONFLICTED Keegan decides to date her friend, Donald. And all through the book, Rourk is of course not happy about this situation he's put in but he decides to enlist in the army so he can try and let go of Keegan forever.

I can't necessarily say I liked this book more than the first, but it was entertaining to say the least. There was only one character I felt bad for and that was Rourk. The poor guy wants the girl he loves, Keegan, to remember who he is and retrieve back their bond . . . but it all seems impossible when his love falls for someone else. I'm always Team Rourk but for Donald fans, I just don't see his appeal whatsoever. As for Keegan's character, readers will see an entirely different girl in this book due to the side effect of the black magic. I didn't like the new Keegan and I wanted the old one back, and despite the crazy things that happened, I was still very happy with the way things ended - though the author did rush the ending.

Overall I thought CONFLICTED was a fast-paced, easy-to-read book. I enjoyed the world Julia Crane created and like I said above, even though it wasn't better than the first book, but the novel's series are going in the right direction in entertaining the reader and I can't wait to see what happens in book three.

The Rating
3/5 stars

Friday, October 7, 2011

Follow Friday

Today's Follow Friday is hosted by Kati at Parajunkee's View.

This week's question: If you could pick one character in a book, movie or television show to swap places with, who would it be?

My answer: That's a really tough question. So I'll answer in book, movie, and television show. For books, I would have to choose the character Tessa from Cassandra Clare's Clockwork Angel book because I would ditch Will and pick Jem without looking back. For movies, I would have to choose the character Anne from Anne of Green Gables films because I've always wanted my own Gilbert and Anne's witty tongue . . . and writing abilities. And lastly for a television show, I would have to choose the character Amy Dorrit from the mini-tv series Little Dorrit because despite her family troubles, I admire her strength and of course I would get to be with the lovely Arthur Clennam.

So what's your follow friday answer this week?

Have a great weekend you guys!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Love Story by Jennifer Echols

Release Date: 19th July, 2011

Publisher: MTV Books

Pages: 243pgs

The Story

She's writing about him. He's writing about her. And everybody is reading between the lines.

For Erin Blackwell, majoring in creative writing at the New York City college of her dreams is more than a chance to fulfill her ambitions - it's her ticket away from the tragic memories that shadow her family's racehorse farm in Kentucky. But when she refuses to major in business and take over the farm herself someday, her grandmother gives Erin's college tuition and promised inheritance to their maddeningly handsome stable boy, Hunter Allen. Now Erin has to win an internship and work late nights at a coffee shop to make her own dreams a reality. She should despite Hunter . . . so why does he sneak into her thoughts as the hero of her latest writing assignment?

Then, on the day she's sharing the assignment with her class, Hunter walks in. And after he reads about himself in her story, her private fantasies about him must be painfully clear. She only hopes to persuade him not to reveal her secret to everyone else. But Hunter devises his own creative revenge, writing sexy stories that drive the whole class wild with curiosity and fill Erin's heart with longing. Now she's not just imagining what might have been. She's writing a whole new ending for her romance with Hunter . . . except this story could come true.

The Review

A big thanks to Jennifer Echols for sending me an autographed review copy of this book!

My name is Erin. Her name is Erin. My middle name contains the name Elizabeth. Her middle name is Elizabeth. I want to study Creative Writing. She is studying Creative Writing. I love writing my own stories. She loves writing her stories. As you see by the similarities between myself and the main character Erin Blackwell, it's no wonder why I love this book already - even before reading it - and because I'm a super huge fan of Jennifer Echols's book Going Too Far, I pretty much knew this book was going to be another winner for me. And it definitely was through my eyes. Plus when I got this book in the mail, it was signed by the lovely author who provided me with this review copy. So kudos to Jennifer Echols and her writing awesomeness!

First of all, let me just say I loved how the author raised the ages of the characters and wrote a book set in a college campus environment. For me this is something very rare for a young adult fictional book and I think we need more of these for our older teen readers. Everything from the storyline to the characters, it all worked out really well for the story's premise.

In Jennifer Echols new book LOVE STORY, Erin Blackwell grew up in Kentucky with her grandmother and lived on their racehorse farm. But unlike her grandmother and the life she wants for her granddaughter, Erin has big dreams to become a professional writer in New York City and when she leaves for college to major in Creative Writing, her grandmother cuts her off financially and leaves her inheritance and her money to the handsome stable boy, Hunter Allen, who has agreed to take over the family business. Much to Erin's dismay and shock. Then, Hunter eventually shows up at the same college Erin is attending and not to mention joins her class of Creative Writing. He didn't choose an ideal time either, because Erin has written a steamy romance story and is reading it to the entire writing class - spotlighting the 'stable boy.' But Hunter has his own plans because he too writes a steamy hot story that has all the students eating out of his hands . . . and Erin realizes that the tables have now turned.

I'm going to lay it on the table - I really loved this book. More importantly I loved the creative writing classes and the stories traded between Erin and Hunter. Their lives are the inspiration to their stories and while being criticized by their fellow peers, little do they know how true the events are and how close they follow the character's actual lives. It was just a really interesting way to look at things and discover little secrets along the way. While I loved all of the supporting characters throughout the book, but what really got to me was the undeniable romance between Erin and Hunter. They were both interesting characters with their own set of dreams and the two of them had spot on tension and chemistry which a lot of readers will love. I found Erin as a character was a little too judgemental for her own good, but I love her aspirations and the feeling how nothing will ever get in her way. As for Hunter, I adored him but damn that boy took his time to admit his feelings . . . but then again that's what boys do.

Now I would've given the book 5 stars but for me the major let-down was the ending. Ah . . . how the ending disappointed me so. I don't particularly like books that have chapters that build to a certain point of tension and then just when you think something big is going to happen and change the course of the events, you suddenly have that tension shrink, leaving you questioning some things. The ending for me was too rushed for my taste and I was a little confused by a couple of things that happened. But overall, you have great characters, great chemistry, and a great love story all round. Jennifer Echols's LOVE STORY will satisfy any reader of a light-hearted romance - with some steamy twists - and I highly recommend this one!

The Rating

4 1/2 / 5 stars

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Nevermore by Kelly Creagh

Release Date: 31st August, 2011

Publisher: Atheneum

Pages: 543pgs

The Story

Cheerleader Isobel Lanley is horrified when she is paired with Varen Nethers for an English project, which is due - so unfair - on the day of the rival game. Cold and aloof, sardonic and sharp-tongued, Varen makes it clear he'd rather not have anything to do with her either. But when Isobel discovers strange writing in his journal, she can't help but give this enigmatic boy with the piercing eyes another look.

Soon, Isobel finds herself making excuses to be with Varen. Steadily pulled away from her friends and her possessive boyfriend, Isobel ventures deeper and deeper into the dream world Varen has created through the pages of his notebook, a realm where the terrifying stories of Edgar Allan Poe come to life.

As her world begins to unravel around her, Isobel discovers that dreams, like words, hold more power than she ever imagined, and that the most frightening realities are those of the mind. Now she must find a way to reach Varen before he is consumed by the shadows of his own nightmares.

The Review

Okay before I start, I just want to say that I wasn't going to read this book, mainly because I don't like cheerleaders being the heroine's. Truth be told, I usually find myself disconnecting from the story when you have those typical American high school popular girls with their ever-do-dumb jock boyfriends - if you know what I mean. But since this book revolved around my beloved and ultimate favourite poet of all time - Mr. Edgar Allan Poe himself, who is a real inspiration to me and to my own writing - I knew I had to read this book as soon as possible! Judging from the raving reviews and all the great things people had to say about NEVERMORE, I'm so glad that I gave this book a chance because I couldn't dare take my eyes off Kelly Creagh's descriptive and captivating pages filled with wow-ing words . . . it was everything that I hoped it would be for me and more!

At first glance of the storyline, you straight away think of the cliche popular girl falling for the outcast guy and no one can understand their relationship. You think to yourself, "This is the same old young adult love story . . ." but don't - I mean ever - overlook this book. The thing about the main character, Isobel, while she maybe popular and a cheerleader, but she was smart in loving cheerleading for what is rather than what is represented and I loved her instantly in the very first chapter. Sure, she was a little not sure of herself as a person, but as the story progressed further, I really admired her standing up against her so-called 'friends' for Varen and she didn't care about what others thought of her. She just kept her head high no matter what. Even if she was upset about it from time-to-time. Now this leads me to Varen . . . what can I say without falling madly in love with him? Seriously if I was in high school again, I wished Varen was real and my boyfriend. I have a thing for the 'outcast' guy but what I loved most about him was how dreamy he was and how he respected and 'worshipped' the words of Poe - my kind of guy! But right here and right now, I will stop talking about Varen because I won't stop so make note of this: he's everything you want in a love interest - an unknown entity that you need to unravel by reading the whole of this amazing book! He's great.

For me what really nailed NEVERMORE's story was Kelly Creagh's writing! She managed to juggle a book with so much love and passion of Poe, and also added some great banter and mystery for Isobel and Varen's character. It was one of the best books I've read this year and I'm definitely looking, wanting, craving . . . for more NEVERMORE action and adventure! The cliffhanger at the end was a real killer and you guys MUST read this book! If you're not an obsessed fan of Edgar Allan Poe like myself, then don't worry if you haven't read any of his work, because the story itself has so many interesting facts about him and Kelly Creagh has twisted it into a whole new ball of fun!

The Rating

5/5 stars
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